The little streams that onward flow
To mingle ere they meet the sea,
Know not that heaven hath willed it so
Till one their waters be.
And, from their fountain heads apart,
The lives that love hath led to me,
Till heart was wedded unto heart,
Knew not their destiny.
I see thee—heaven’s unclouded face
A vacancy around thee made,
Its sunshine a subservient grace
Thy lovelier light to shade.
I feel thee, as the billows feel
A river freshening the brine;
A life’s libation poured to heal
The bitterness of mine.
Hold the trinket near thine eye,
And it circles earth and sky;
Place it further, and behold!
But a finger’s breadth of gold.
Thus our lives, beloved, lie
Ringed with love’s fair boundary;
Place it further, and its sphere
Measures but a falling tear.
How many an acorn falls to die
For one that makes a tree!
How many a heart must pass me by
For one that cleaves to me!
How many a suppliant wave of sound
Must still unheeded roll
For one low utterance that found
An echo in my soul!
Fade not yet, O summer day,
For my love hath answered yea;
Keep us from the coming night,
Lest our blossom suffer blight.
Fear thou not; if love be true,
Closer will it cleave to you.
’Tis the darkened hours that prove
Faith or faithlessness in love.
For a recitation, click the play button:
“Tributaries”: Later Lyrics, p. 12; Poetry, p. 141. March 1899.
“An Influence”: Poems, p. 35; Poetry, p. 133. October 1889. A libation is a sacrificial offering of liquid. For some uses in Old Testament worship, see Genesis 35:14 and Numbers 28:7-8.
“The Ring”: Poems, p. 1; Poetry, p. 130. June 1885. This is one of Father Tabb’s earlier poems; it was placed first in his first commercially-published book collection.
“Compensation”: Poems, p. 41; Poetry, p. 133. October 1892.
“Song”: Later Poems, p. 49; Poetry, p. 143. May 1908. The first stanza is addressed to the summer day; the second stanza is the summer day’s reply. This poem is entitled “A Sunset Song” in Poetry. Father Tabb’s biographer, Francis Litz, says, “Of the period of incipient and total blindness he has left a written record in the poems that appeared in the magazines,” and that “Song” is the first of them.